February 19, 2020 - 11:25 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - February 19 marks the 16th anniversary of the murder of Armenian officer Gurgen Margaryan by Azerbaijani officer Ramil Safarov in Hungary.
A Lieutenant of the Armenian Armed Forces, Margaryan, then 26, was hacked to death, while asleep, by a fellow Azerbaijani participant, lieutenant Safarov, in Budapest during a three-month English language course in the framework of a NATO-sponsored Partnership for Peace program.
On April 13, 2006, Budapest District Court sentenced Safarov to life in prison for murdering Margaryan. On February 22, 2007, Budapest Court rejected Azerbaijani military officer's appeal against the verdict, precluding possibility of pardon for the initial 30 years.
By a decree of then President of Armenia Robert Kocharian officer Margaryan was awarded with a posthumous Medal for Courage on February 19, 2005.
In 2012, Safarov was extradited to Azerbaijan and pardoned by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.
Official Yerevan reacted by suspending diplomatic ties with Hungary. Hungary, however, stated that it had sent Safarov back to Azerbaijan after receiving assurances from the Azerbaijani Justice Ministry that Safarov's sentence, which included the possibility of parole after 25 years, would be enforced.
Hungary’s Prime Minister Victor Orban first stated that he transferred the prisoner to Azerbaijan on the understanding that he would serve out the rest of his life sentence in his home country. In later statements, Orban admitted that he not only signed the extradition agreement himself, but that he had repeatedly been warned that if Safarov were extradited to Azerbaijan, he would be pardoned and even celebrated by Ilham Aliyev's dictatorial regime. According to some reports, Safarov was extradited to Azerbaijan in exchange for Azeri purchase of Hungarian securities worth Euro 2-3 billion, information that official Budapest denies.